Presentation on theme: "Victorian Essayists Lecture 20 History of English literature COMSATS Virtual CAMPUS ISLAMABAD."— Presentation transcript:
Victorian Essayists Lecture 20 History of English literature COMSATS Virtual CAMPUS ISLAMABAD
The Victorian prose is in keeping with the energetic temperament of the time. An expansive energy seems to be characteristic of the whole period, displaying itself as freely in literature as in the development of science, geographical exploration and the rapidity of economic change.
This energetic mood prescribes the inventiveness and fertility of the prose-writers of the period and explains the vitality of so many of their works. Carlyle’s The French Revolution, Ruskin’s Modern Painters and Arnold’s Essays in Criticism are not modest and light-hearted compositions, but they represent the aesthetic equivalent of self- assertion and an urgent ‘will to survive’ which was characteristic of the early Victorians.
Their prose is not, as a rule, flawless in diction and rhythm, or easily related to a central standard of correctness or polished to a uniform high finish, but it is a prose which is vigorous, intricate and ample, and is more conscious of vocabulary and imagery than of balance and rhythm. The dominant impression of zestful and workmanlike prose.
As the number of prose-writers during the period is quite large, there is a greater variety of style among them than to be found in any other period. In the absence any well-defined tradition of prose-writing, each writer cherishes his oddities and idiosyncrasies and is not prepared to sacrifice his peculiarities in deference to a received tradition.
Victorian individualism, the ‘Doing As One Likes’, censured by Matthew Arnold, reverberates in prose style.
Taking the Victorian prose as a whole, we can say that it is Romantic prose. Though Romanticism gave a new direction to English poetry between 1780 and 1830, its full effects on prose were delayed until the eighteen- thirties when all the major Romantic poets were either dead or moribund. That is why, early Victorian prose is, properly speaking, Romantic prose, and Carlyle is the best example of a Romantic prose-artist.
In fact it were the romantic elements— unevenness, seriousness of tone, concreteness and particularity—which constitute the underlying unity of the prose of the early Victorian period. All the great prose writers of period—Carlyle, Ruskin, Macaulay and Matthew Arnold have these qualities in common.
Thomas Carlyle Thomas Carlyle (4 December 1795 – 5 February 1881) was a Scottish satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher during the Victorian era. He called economics "the dismal science", wrote articles for the Edinburgh Encyclopedia, and became a controversial social commentator. ScottishsatiricalessayisthistorianVictorian eraeconomicsthe dismal science Coming from a strict Calvinist family, Carlyle was expected to become a preacher by his parents, but while at the University of Edinburgh, he lost his Christian faith. Calvinist values, however, remained with him throughout his life. This combination, of a religious temperament with loss of faith in traditional Christianity, made Carlyle's work appealing to many Victorians who were grappling with scientific and political changes that threatened the traditional social order.Calvinist University of Edinburgh
Early Writings By 1821, Carlyle had abandoned the clergy as a possible career and focused on making a life as a writer. His first attempt at fiction was "Cruthers and Jonson", one of several abortive attempts at writing a novel.
Early Writings Following his work on a translation of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister's Apprenticeship, he came to distrust the form of the realistic novel and so worked on developing a new form of fiction. In addition to his essays on German literature, he branched out into wider ranging commentary on modern culture in his influential essays Signs of the Times and Characteristics.Goethe
Essays Later writings were generally short essays, often indicating the hardening of Carlyle's political positions. His notoriously racist essay "Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question" suggested that slavery should never have been abolished, or else replaced with serfdom. It had kept order, he argued, and forced work from people who would otherwise have been lazy and feckless.racistOccasional Discourse on the Negro Questionserfdom
Essays This – and Carlyle's support for the repressive measures of Governor Edward Eyre in Jamaica – further alienated him from his old liberal allies. Eyre had been accused of brutal lynchings while suppressing a rebellion. Carlyle set up a committee to defend Eyre, while Mill organised for his prosecution.Edward Eyre
John Henry Newman John Henry Newman, (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890),also referred to as Cardinal Newman and Blessed John Henry Newman, was an important figure in the religious history of England in the 19th century. He was known nationally by the mid-1830s. Originally an evangelical Oxford academic and clergyman in the Church of England, Newman was a leader in the Oxford Movement. This influential grouping of Anglicans wished to return the Church of England to many Catholic beliefs and forms of worship. He left the Anglican church and converted to Roman Catholicism (1845), eventually being granted the rank of Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII.Church of EnglandOxford MovementAnglicansRoman CatholicismCardinalPope Leo XIII
Newman’s Writings Some of Newman's short and earlier poems are described by R. H. Hutton as "unequalled for grandeur of outline, purity of taste and radiance of total effect"; while his latest and longest, The Dream of Gerontius, attempts to represent the unseen world along the same lines as Dante. His prose style, especially in his Catholic days, is fresh and vigorous, and is attractive to many who do not sympathise with his conclusions, from the apparent candour with which difficulties are admitted and grappled; while in his private correspondence there is charm. ".R. H. HuttonThe Dream of GerontiusDante
Newman’s Writings He also published a set of lectures entitled The Idea of a University. James Joyce had a lifelong admiration for Newman's writing, and in a letter to his patron Harriet Shaw Weaver humorously remarked about Newman that "nobody has ever written English prose that can be compared with that of a tiresome footling little Anglican parson who afterwards became a prince of the only true churchJames JoyceHarriet Shaw Weaver
John Stuart Mill Raised as a utilitarian, but later influenced by the work of Wordsworth, he opposed the utilitarian view-point of the times put forth by Jeremy Bentham, who thought that poetry "stimulated the passions and prejudices, and that it was therefore socially harmful." (This seems like an on-going argument that can be traced from Plato's Republic all the way to the U.S. Senate sub-committee on the National Endowment for the arts. Someone's always accusing poetry of either volatile, subversive, or just immoral purposes.)
Mills’ Argument for Poetry In discussing how people know the difference between something that is poetic and something that is not, Mill says "[t]he appearance of a difference is itself a real difference." This is an interesting statement. He basically says that once something is said, or implied, even if it isn't true necessarily, the question is out there for discussion. He suggests that the differences in emphasis between the novel and poetry is so great that the forms are almost "mutually exclusive" and he even wonders how those who really appreciate one could care at all about the other. While he says that "many of the finest poems are in the form of novels, and in almost all good novels there is true poetry," the difference between the two is that the novel "is derived from incident" where poetry comes from a "representation of feeling." He goes so far as to suggest that the epic poetry is not really poetry at all.
Mills’ Argument for Poetry He talks about the difference between description in poetry and other kinds of writing saying that fiction or science would try to convey the truth about the outward appearance of things. Poetry on the other hand, may not describe the outward appearance accurately (it wouldn't even try) but would describe the thing in a way that the emotions produced by it are rendered with "scrupulous truth." He grants that poetry is "impassioned truth" but says that can't be all it is, because that is a description of eloquence, which is also present in philosophy, among other things. The difference, he suggests is that "eloquence is heard, poetry is overheard." Eloquence is specifically meant to move an audience while poetry is like hearing private thoughts, and here he uses a gorgeous line: "Poetry is feeling confessing itself to itself." This act of poetry makes it "soliloquy." He uses a simile to acting by suggesting that if an actor is too aware of the audience, he will deliver a bad performance. The same is true of a poet. He has to write for himself alone, even if he plans to publish it, because the moment he begins to write for someone else, the work becomes not poetic, but eloquent.
Early Life Born, 1819, in London to a wine merchant and strict, Evangelical mother – Spent time in isolation and with few toys – Traveled to the continent at age 6 Published first poem at the age of 11 Graduated from Oxford in 1842 after a period of illness Married to Euphemia (Effie) Gray in 1848
Ruskin and Turner 1836, wrote an essay defending J.M.W. Turner ( ) – Romantic landscape artist Began Modern Painters in response to attacks on Turner The Grand Canal, Venice (1835)
Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites Defends the Pre- Raphaelite Brotherhood from attacks in 1850 – William Holman Hunt – John Everett Millais – Dante Gabriel Rossetti Follow principle of “returning to Nature” William Holman Hunt, “The Light of the World” (1854)
Christ in the House of His Parents ( ), by Millais
Ruskin, Millais and Divorce Takes on Millais as a protégé Travels to Scotland with Millais and wife, Effie in 1853 Divorces Effie in 1854 – Non-consummation Effie and Millais marry in 1855 John Ruskin ( ) By Millais
Later Life Meets Rose la Touche in 1858 (age 9) – Proposes marriage when she turns 18 – They never marry, Rose dies at the age of 27 after suffering from mental illness Around 1877 begins to suffer from a series of attacks of mental illness Humiliated in the Ruskin v. Whistler trial Dies 20 January, 1900
Ruskin v. Whistler Ruskin accuses Whistler of charging “two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face.” – Whistler sues for libel Awarded one farthing Ruskin damaged mentally, emotionally and financially by the experience Nocturne in Black and Gold (1874) James McNeill Whistler
Ruskin’s Major Works On art and architecture: – Modern Painters, Volumes 1-5 ( ) – The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) – The Stones of Venice ( ) On society and politics – “Unto This Last” (1860) – Fors Clavigera (1871) Praeterita ( ) – Autobiography Complete works comprise 39 large volumes
Ruskin’s Legacy Influenced famous authors and political leaders – Leo Tolstoy, Marcel Proust, Mahatma Ghandi, Oscar Wilde Instituted socialist movements and welfare systems – National Trust Largely dismissed in the early-mid twentieth century but beginning to be re-discovered and appreciated
Works Cited “John Henry Newman: Writer.” wman#Writer wman#Writer “John Stuart Mill Critical Works.” tml tml “Thomas Carlyle Writings.” Early_writings Early_writings